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Mother Nature really painted a masterpiece today. Crisp blue skies, fragrant blooming flowers, a gentle spring breeze—perfect for a stroll through your favorite patch of woods. For all of 10 minutes, that is. Then the pollen police take over, stuffing up your nose, making you sneeze uncontrollably, and turning your leisurely walk into a mad sprint for a box of tissues.

The immune system releases histamines and other irritating substances in response to perfectly normal (and otherwise harmless) airborne particles like dust, mold, tree pollen, and animal dander (dandruff). Typical allergy symptoms include sneezing, nasal itching, and a dripping nose, along with congestion and red, swollen, itchy eyes. Whether or not you’ll develop an allergy is part genetics and part environment. A child with one allergic parent has about a 30 to 50% chance of getting allergies, while odds rise to approximately 60 to 80% if both parents have allergies. Also, exposure to a high level of allergens early on puts you at increased risk of developing allergic symptoms later.

Women rarely develop new allergies after age 30 unless they are exposed to some new allergen such as a pet or a pollen. The good news is that allergies tend to subside at about age 55, says Edward O’Connell, MD, professor of pediatrics, allergy, and immunology at Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota. That’s because your immune system begins to decline, making it less likely to attack an invading mold spore or another allergen.

Here’s how to keep your allergies in check:

Seal your mattress. One of the big problems with dust is dust mites, teeny creatures that live on dust, skin flakes, and other bits of microscopic household debris that collects in bedding, furniture, and curtains, says Rebecca Gruchalla, MD, PhD, assistant professor of internal medicine and chief of the Division of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. So zipping a plastic cover over your mattress is a good way of limiting dust mite exposure. Dr. Gruchalla also recommends putting duct tape on the mattress zipper, sealing off the escape route for dust mites.

Dry up. Molds and dust mites thrive in warm, humid conditions. So to reduce mold and dust mite levels, keep a dehumidifier in your bedroom and one in your family room.

Clean the dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers should be cleaned out every week. Otherwise, molds will proliferate.

Use the exhaust fan. Whenever you take a shower, turn on the fan. A humid, unventilated bathroom makes mold worse, says Kathy L. Lampl, MD, instructor in the Department of Medicine in the Clinical Immunology Division at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Simplify .Getting rid of dust mite havens, especially in your bedroom, is a sneeze-free way of coping, notes Dr. Lampl. “Have a clutter-free room with no fabrics or banners on the wall. You shouldn’t have carpeting, because vacuuming doesn’t clear the dust mites out.” Stuffed toys trap dust and should be removed. She also recommends frequent changing of sheets and regular washing of bed linens, pillows, and bedspreads.

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